Mr. Mayor, Are You SURE You Want To Do That?

By Bill Kennedy

Dear Mr. Mayor,

On Friday you were interviewed on our local radio about your plans to make our growing city more efficient. When asked for specifics, one of the examples you gave was the expense of outsourcing the Information Technology departments of the city, the public transit and the police force. "Why not combine them to save money?" you asked.

On the surface, this looks like a no-brainer and I agree that it makes sense, but please don't look to save money for at least the next 5 years.

Computer systems come with baggage Mr. Mayor. There are old systems that have to be maintained because of the expense of updating them or the lack of a more modern equivalent. There will be incompatible networks and hardware. There will be ongoing projects which have consumed millions of dollars to date. These challenges can't be swept away over night.

Then there is the question of which suppliers, hardware, software and systems to standardize on. This will not be an easy discussion or a quick implementation.

Next there is the question of converting the legacy systems to the new ones. I wish the conversion of old data were as cheap and easy as software salespeople would have you believe. It's not. Put simply, data structures are designed to match the logic of the software that works with them. Different packages use different logic. Converting data requires a bridge between the two approaches. It ain't easy, Mr. Mayor and it requires a lot of vigilance to be sure it is done right.

Now, I don't want to just sit here and criticize, Mr. Mayor. I want to offer some concrete advice. Work from the top down. You employed a blue ribbon team of volunteer business experts to report on the state of the city. Get a similar team of computer experts to look at the city's systems. Start to standardize your vendors and ensure that any systems slated for updating or replacement conform to the new plan. Focus on better information, better service and value for money, rather than cost cutting. Finally, break the project down into deliverables that make sense to the people implementing them. That way there won't be a mass exodus from your IT departments.

Your computer systems are your eyes and ears, Mr. Mayor. Make them the best you can and I guarantee they will help you define areas where real savings can be achieved.

This blog

by Bill Kennedy, CA.IT, PMP - With over 25 years of accounting experience, Bill has a varied background in accounting management and accounting systems implementation, with a focus on the charitable sector. He is also an experienced volunteer board member and fundraiser.

More from this blog

Bloggers crew

Steve Knowles has spent 25 years in business and practice in the UK, but he also worked in the states and the years haven't dulled his way of seeing an alternative view to everyone else, and every day is a new adventure.

43189

Joel M. Ungar, CPA is a lifelong resident of the Detroit area and a graduate of The University of Michigan. He is a principal with Silberstein Ungar, PLLC, a Top 15 auditor of SEC public reporting companies.

75636

Allan Boress, CPA, with over 25 years as a practitioner and consultant to the accounting profession. Mr. Boress is the author of 12 published books in 6 different languages, including a best-seller, The "I-Hate-Selling" Book.

48148

Larry Perry, CPA, CPA Firm Support Services, LLC, is the author of accounting and auditing manuals, author and presenter of live staff training seminars, and author of webcast and self-study CPE programs. He blogs about small audits, reviews, and compilations.

88631
Sandra Wiley, COO and Shareholder, is ranked by Accounting Today as one of the 100 Most Influential People in Accounting as a result of her prominent role as an industry expert on HR and training as well as influence as a management and planning consultant. She is also a founding member of The CPA Consultant's Alliance. Sandra is a certified Kolbe™ trainer who advises firms on building balanced teams, managing employee conflict and hiring staff.
20331

Maria Calabrese, CIR, Human Resources manager for Fazio, Mannuzza, Roche, Tankel, LaPilusa, LLC in Cranford, New Jersey, Maria's topics revolve around the world of: Mentoring, Performance management, and The "Y Generation," a.k.a. "The whY generation".

55330

William Brighenti is a CPA, Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor, and Certified [Business] Valuation Analyst, operating an accounting, tax, and QuickBooks consulting firm in Hartford, Connecticut, Accountants CPA Hartford.

80299

Ken Garen, CPA, is the co-founder and President of Universal Business Computing Company (www.ubcc.com), a software development firm of high-volume, high-productivity accounting and payroll technology.

24803

Eva Rosenberg, MBA, EA, is the publisher of TaxMama.com, and author of the weekly syndicated Ask TaxMama column. She provides answers to tax questions from taxpayers and tax professionals worldwide.

63814

Amy Vetter, CPA, CITP is the CPA Programs Leader for Intacct Corporation responsible for leading the CPA/BPO Partners nationally.

34245
Brian Strahle is the owner of LEVERAGE SALT, LLC where he provides state and local tax technical services to accounting firms, law firms and tax research organizations across the United States. He also writes a weekly column in Tax Analysts State tax Notes entitled, "The SALT Effect." For more info, visit his website: www.leveragestateandlocaltax.com
102344
Scott H. Cytron, ABC, is president of Cytron and Company, known for helping companies and organizations improve their bottom line through a hybrid of strategic public relations, communications, marketing programs and top-notch client service. An accredited consultant, Scott works with companies, organizations and individuals in professional services (accounting, finance, medical, legal, engineering), high-tech and B2B/B2C product/service sales.
25651

Rita Keller is a nationally known CPA firm management consultant, speaker, author, mentor and blogger. She has over 30 years hands-on experience in CPA firm management, marketing, technology and administrative operations.

52263
Stacy Kildal is the mom of two fantastic kids, an Advanced Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor, Certified Enterprise Solutions ProAdvisor, Sleeter Group Certified Consultant, a nationally recognized member of the Intuit Trainer and Writer Network, and co-host of RadioFree QuickBooks.
27540
Michael Alter's blog specializes in providing practical advice to those who seek greater profitability and practice management tactics that enhance deeper client relationships.
31841

Sally Glick, CMO, Principal, Marketer of the Year in 2003 and AAM Hall of Famer in 2007, leads a lively discussion of the constantly expanding roles of marketing and the professional marketers that drive this initiative in accounting firms of all sizes.

100080

The IMA Young Professionals Blog features the insights of IMA’s Young Professionals Committee. Committee members share advice and experiences on careers, continuing education, work/life balance, and other issues affecting young accounting and finance professionals.

33015

FEI Financial Reporting Blog provides highlights from SEC, PCAOB, FASB, IASB, and other regulatory news, including reporting under Sarbanes-Oxley Sect 404. It is written by Edith Orenstein, Director of Technical Policy Analysis at FEI.

111028

Sue Anderson has 30 years of experience in continuing education for accountants. Currently she is the program director for online CPE provider CPE Link.

60723

Jim Fahey is COO of Apple Growth Partners, a regional CPA firm in Ohio. His focus is on the effective and efficient use of technology within the firm by all team members.

38955
Caleb Newquist is the Editor-in-Chief of Sift Media US, overseeing content for both AccountingWEB and Going Concern.
66172

Leita Hart-Fanta, CPA, CGFM, and CGAP is the author of "The Yellow Book Interpreted" and owner of Yellowbook-CPE.com a website devoted to training for governmental auditors.

92180

AccountingWEB is more than just a U.S. team of journalists and financial and technology experts - we have an international side, too! Members of our British team who publish AccountingWEB.co.uk share their ideas, insights, and perspectives from across the pond.

53220